Music at the Marina: Get a Peek Behind the Curtain

Music at the Marina is an Everett summer institution. There’s something timeless about enjoying music outdoors at the marina, taking in the salt air and the orange skies at sunset while a musician wielding a flaming trumpet plays on.

I’m not kidding. This kind of stuff happens, and it’s thanks to Lisa Newland and her team at the City of Everett.

Music at the Marina has been around almost 30 years, and for 10 of them, Lisa Newland, City of Everett’s Cultural Arts Coordinator, has been at the helm. Newland not only coordinates Music at the Marina but a whole assortment of summer festivals in the city including Sorticulture, the 4th of July Parade and Festival, Children’s Concerts, Cinema Under the Stars, the Mayor’s Arts Awards… there’s a lot on Newland’s plate.

“But I love my job,” Newland said over coffee at Silver Cup. “Everything we do is free and open to the public.”

The BB King Blues Band at Music at the Marina in 2017 // Courtesy Jake Campbell

The BB King Blues Band at Music at the Marina in 2017 // Courtesy Jake Campbell

Newland said the process of booking Music at the Marina starts in winter, where she starts reaching out to bands that have become favorites among the events regulars.

“We love bands that create something new and expose our audience to new genres. We do have crowd favorites that are super popular,” Newland said. DocktorfunK, Dusty 45s and Clinton Fearon are some of the returning acts from events past, which some longtime patrons plan around.

“In February I start getting phone calls like ‘hey when is so-in-so coming? That’s when my sister-in-law is coming to town.’ There’s a very intense core of people [who enjoy Music at the Marina].”

Along with fielding phone calls from Music at the Marina diehards, a lot of Newlands time is dedicated to listening to the hundreds of submissions from bands all over the country.

Dancers at Music at the Marina // Courtesy of Jake Campbell

Dancers at Music at the Marina // Courtesy of Jake Campbell

“I do not listen to every submission. I would say that I listen to 75 percent of the submissions.” Newland said for 2019 her three-person team received over 300 inquiries about Music at the Marina.

Once bands are booked, Newland’s job isn’t over. She has to make sure bands are paid (after the performance), fed (via a rotating cast of food trucks booked for each show) and sometimes lodged for the night (thanks to city partnerships), which requires more phone calls, emails and correspondence. Not to mention day-of duties like coordinating with sound techs and making sure both Lombardi’s and the food trucks are ready to feed the crowd.

Do bands enjoy playing Music at the Marina?

“[Bands] generally want to come back,” Newland said. “I think it's because Everett is so welcoming. They don’t get to look at the sunset, but they get to look up at Grand Avenue Park and people on the bluff there.” Getting a birds-eye view from the park of the stage and water is a new occurrence, and Newland thinks the addition of the Grand Avenue Park bridge opening in 2020 will help bring more people to the waterfront.

With all the big changes happening to the Port of Everett and its Waterfront Place construction, Newland hopes Music at the Marina can continue on, whether in the same space or in Waterfront Place’s.  

“I know the Port wants to create some of their own events. They’re very gracious with allowing us to use the space every year, so I hope that, since we’ve been partners for such a long time, that that partnership will continue and that we’ll be able to provide great music in some of their spaces,” Newland said.

We’re hoping Music at the Marina stays for another 30 years.

Before you go

Newland shared some tips with us to get the best out of your Music at the Marina experience.

  • Bring cash for parking. The Port of Everett is charging $2 for parking this year.

  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a hat and bring plenty of sunscreen.

  • Be ready to eat. Rotating food truck, Lombardi’s or bring a picnic (but get there early because of limited space).

  • Chairs are welcome.

  • Bring a great, ready to dance attitude.

Music at the Marina

Begins Thursday, June 20, with Doctorfunk

6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. All Ages.

See the full schedule


Henry J is the Managing Editor of Live in Everett and plays bass in Oliver Elf Army.